MANTECA, Calif. — Parents in Manteca are outraged after their children's bus never arrived at the bus stop after school on Thursday. A video circulating on social media shows the chaos of the scene.
Leticia Maravilla, who shot that video, is one of those outraged parents. Her 7-year-old daughter Sophia takes a Manteca Unified School District bus to and from New Haven Elementary School every day.
On Thursday, when Sophia's great-grandma Janice Barbosa went to pick up the girl from the bus stop at Springtime Park, Sophia never arrived.
"I went to the bus stop on time and had been waiting and waiting," Barbosa told ABC10 News. "I could see other parents pulled up and they're waiting, and I could see them all talking to each other saying, 'Where's the bus at?'"
Family members frantically calling the school and district were told they could go get their kids at New Haven Elementary School, but by then, Maravilla said, they had been waiting almost an hour - and without answers, at first.
"When I was asking them, I said, 'Well, where's my daughter now?' and they would not tell me where my daughter was," Maravilla said. "From the moment [the kids] get on that bus to the moment they get home, they are no longer in our care; they're in their care, and we're supposed to trust them to watch after them, and we can't even do that."
When Sophia was finally reunited with her family at the school, the girl was crying and upset, claiming the school bus driver had gotten frustrated.
"She told everyone to shut up," Sophia said. "I told her that I had a headache and she said, 'Do you think I care?'...I just start crying, it just made me feel sad."
A spokesperson for Manteca Unified School District said the bus driver told the district's Director of Transportation that student behavior was interfering with school bus safety.
The district says the director then told the driver to find a safe stopping point. The driver opted to return the kids to the elementary school, where they'd be either transferred to a different bus or released to parents.
"I feel like if [the driver] can't handle the noise of the kindergarten through eighth grade, then she should not be driving the bus," Maravilla said.
A statement from Manteca Unified School District spokesperson Victoria Brunn said, "This is not normal procedure and we extend our apologies to families affected by this decision. The operator involved in this incident has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of the incident. Manteca Unified School District will be following up with all bus operators to reaffirm correct procedures to follow for the safety of all our students and staff."
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